Alvin Crawley relishes the days he can get a little dirty. One recent day, he played kickball with students at Maury Elementary School, and then dusted off his new suit before returning to his office. Another day, he played drums and told African folk tales to fourth-graders during a lunch break at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, an elementary school. And on still another, he and Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille rapped in a student-created music video to stem the cases of bullying.
When Superintendent Karen Garza started her job at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia last July, she had barely unpacked when she found a perfect storm of budget planning: increased enrollment, deferred retirement system contributions and a major uptick in students needing ESOL services.
In the past 15 years, the Shakopee School District, in a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul, has grown from 3,500 students to 8,000. The district is averaging 300 new students and 50-60 new teachers per year. We spoke with Superintendent Rod Thompson, who attended the San Antonio District Administration Leadership Institute Summit in November, about the challenges and opportunities of continued growth.
Donald Brann, state trustee of Inglewood USD, has only been on the job six months, but already teachers and administrators are seeing that things are different from what they used to be.
After the state takeover of the financially-struggling district, administrators say just having direct access and being able to communicate with him and receive quick answers to their questions is a change of pace. They had never seen the chief administrator visit their schools before.
Superintendent Joe Kitchens thinks technology will keep students in school and on track to graduate. The 20-year-leader of the Western Heights school district in suburban Oklahoma City is focusing on a strong telecommunications network and analyzing student data through various platforms to raise the 63 percent graduation rate.
Knox County Schools is a flourishing district in Tennessee, with most of its 15 high schools having graduation rates above 90 percent. Within the last five years, the district has also has also seen modest gains in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies as measured by the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests for grades 3 through 8.
It was 1978 when Tom Johnstone, graduated from Santa Clara University, hopped in a Volkswagen bus with some buddies and headed to South America.
When he wasn’t sightseeing in Argentina and Chile, he treasured one-on-one time with locals. And this came after Johnstone had spent a year of college in Madrid and studied in Caracas, Venezuela, as a high school exchange student. It reinforced an earlier connection he had with Spanish-speaking people.
St. Louis Public Schools, the largest district in Missouri, was struggling to stay afloat in 2007, with $40 million dollars of debt and low test scores. In March of that year, the state school board revoked the district’s accreditation for not meeting state standards and took control.